Showing posts with label Overland Park. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Overland Park. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 20

High Plains Brewhoff - New Beer Event in Downtown OP

I really hope this has something to do with the Hasselhoff.

There's a new beer event in town and it's the first of its kind in Kansas. The High Plains Brewhoff, hosted by Brew Lab in Downtown OP, is officially a homebrew competition, but will feature brews made by both amateur and professional brewers and be laid back like a beer festival.

"Just like our store, this will be fun and informal," says Kevin Combs from Brew Lab.

All of you attending will act as the judges for the competition, with each attendee getting three tokens to distribute as they see fit. And thanks to the event sponsors, the tickets are free!

The Brewhoff will be held along Foster Street just in front of Brew Lab's store on Sept. 20, from 1p-5p. There will be 22 brewery booths total. Food will be available from Papa Keno's pizza (who will also be serving their own beer brewed at Brew Lab), and there will be live music as well. In order to help offset some of the costs of hosting the event, Brew Lab will have commemorative tulip tasting glasses and t-shirts available for sale at the event as well (although you don't have to purchase them).

Torn Label will be one of several
breweries-in-planning at the event. 
About half of the beer booths will be homebrewers. There will be quite a few from the Johnson County Brewing Society and the KC Nanobrew Fest crowd, among others. The rest of the booths will be breweries-in-planning and homebrews made by professional brewers.

Right now, four breweries-in-planning are confirmed and include Crane Brewing, Torn Label, Red Crow, and Double Shift. The only professional brewer confirmed at this point is Bryce from Cinder Block. There will likely be a few more breweries-in-planning and professional brewers attending, but haven't yet been confirmed.

Because of the new Kansas law, there are some peculiarities about how you can get tickets. Kevin Combs and Clay Johnston at Brew Lab and Mike McVey at MKL Law (who was pivotal in getting the law passed in the first place) worked closely with the KS ABC to bring this event to fruition and make sure everything is compliant with the new laws. 

The result of the new laws is that the event has to be by invitation only. However, it's not a super exclusive invite list (no singing telegrams are being sent out, unfortunately). Basically, you just need to fill out the invitation request form and provide a referral. Let them know who referred you to the event, whether it's a friend, someone who works at Brew Lab you know, a homebrew club you're involved with, another brewer, or a friend of a friend of Kevin Bacon. Just don't list your referral as "The Internet."

I was referred by the buffalo. 
Once the organizers have approved your invitation, you will get an email with a link in it. It may take a couple days before you get the email, so don't fret if it doesn't come right away. You can then use this link to go to the ticketing site where you can order your tickets. This process needs to be done for every attendee. As of writing this, about two-thirds of the 500 invites are already spoken for. 

The organizers and volunteers have gone a long way towards helping the JoCo homebrew and craft brew scenes with their extensive work with Overland Park, KS ABC, and the neighborhood and business associations in the area. Kevin also helped found the new Johnson County Brewing Society.

They're pretty humble about it all though. As Kevin puts it, "As much as people think we are political activists, we are simply wanting to put on a fun event for our customers and the local brewing community."

Thursday, July 25

The (Brew) Lab Report - A Photo Tour

 They say that seeing is believing, and in the case of Overland Park's new brew-on-premise business Brew Lab, I really needed to see it in person to wrap my head around it. I had heard of the concept before, but in all honesty, was shocked that something of this nature would open up in Kansas, where the government doesn't even want women to control their own lady parts, much less let the general public use a shared common space to *gasp* freely make alcoholic beverages on a whim.

Thursday, June 20

Short Pours - 6/20/13

Barley's Leawood opens Friday

The newest Barley's Brewhaus location, at 5031 W. 135th Street, will have its grand opening tomorrow. Thanks to the Facebook page for the new bar and restaurant, we've seen a number of photos detailing progress, and the space looks like it should be very cool. Plus, there will be 62 taps, so you certainly can't complain about that. If you live out that way and need another bar option besides the Cougar Den that is Nick and Jake's, Barley's might be the place for you. If you stop in and check it out this weekend, report back here and let everyone know how it is!

Monday, June 17

Short Pours - 6/17/13

Terra Incognita to hit shelves tomorrow

Boulevard's collaboration with Sierra Nevada, Terra Incognita, will begin hitting store shelves around Kansas City tomorrow. The beer, which was originally brewed exclusively for the 2012 SAVOR Festival, was brought back to life by the two breweries for a 2013 release...with a few tweaks. This year's Terra Incognita is a blend of three variations of the beer: Terra Incognita aged in Templeton Rye barrels (30%, roughly), Terra Incognita aged in a 2,000-gallon foudre (45%, roughly), and fresh Terra Incognita dry-hopped with East Kent Golding hops (25%, roughly). And just prior to bottling, a dose of Brettanomyces was added to the beer before it was aged for over 3 months.

In addition to the release of the beer, you can watch and chat live with Sierra Nevada's Steve Dresler and Boulevard's Steven Pauwels on Wednesday from 1-1:30pm by going to

Monday, June 3

Brew Lab to bring brewing to the masses

The buzz has been growing (no pun intended) about a new Overland Park business resident that will be bringing beer brewing to the masses. Brew Lab, a concept created by Kevin Combs, Clay Johnston, Justin Waters and Matthew Hornung, will be opening up in the space at 8004 Foster Street. However, Brew Lab isn't just a standard homebrew shop (though they do plan to sell brewing equipment and ingredients for use at home).

Tuesday, March 12

Burgin' and Bakin' - 2 New JoCo bars reviewed

When I recently heard of two new places in northern Johnson County that opened and were supposedly catering to the craft beer crowd, I was excited. Being an Overland Park resident, I've become all too familiar with the beer barren wasteland that is Johnson County (save for the two Barley's locations), and have spent a significant amount of time driving to Waldo, Westport, Martin City and downtown KC to get my fill of beer. Both places I essentially stumbled across via the internet, and hadn't heard any detailed word-of-mouth reviews, so the other night I decided to make a trek to check out both.

Monday, October 1

Barley's Brewhaus Anniversary Week

Barley's Brewhaus in Overland Park is celebrating their 17th anniversary this week, and after a pretty disappointing set of events for 75th Street Brewery's recent anniversary, I was glad to see that KC Hopps did a better job with planning the Barley's events. While some of the things listed are standard weekly specials (see the full schedule flyer at the bottom of this post), there are a few other interesting things that may be worth checking out if you find yourself venturing over to the Kansas side of town this week. Below are the unique events/highlights:

Monday, September 19

Johnny's at Night

So Stella and I were out Saturday evening and I wanted to grab a couple of drinks and watch the Sporting KC game. Earlier in the day we had driven by the new Johnny's Tavern at 95th and Antioch so it was in my head as a place to go for neighborhood sports bar action. The situation we were in was screaming for Johnny's so we went.

Tuesday, November 30

Bar Hopping in North JoCo

It seems that JJSKCK has run into the same issue as Stella and I have on occasion, where to drink near our house. JJS mad a list of all the bars he's gone within 10 minutes drive from his house and rated them based on 5 criteria; ambience, clientele, location, service and beer selection. He rated them on a 5 point scale on each of the criteria, added them up and got a total. Since he lives relatively close to la manse du Vard it is an extremely useful list. His winner was Waxy O'Sheas (11900 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Shawnee) with Birdie's coming in second. I've been known to grab a pint or two at Birdie's and they do quite the business on Friday and Saturday nights. I was surprised to learn that Waxy's won the JJS seal of approval as I have never even considered going there. JJS did a great job, though I think he rated Maloney's a little too low but many of my extra points would go towards location since it's quite close to me. Anyway, if you live in North Johnson County, JJS' list might cause you to seek out a new place for a beer. For more bars in North JoCo you can consult the 87th Street Bar and Bike wrapup. And for a completely unrelated post, but interesting for the neighborhood, check out Meesha's post about the Merriam land grab and empty shopping center.

Friday, November 19

Rock Bottom Biersch

Rock Bottom Brewery and Gordon-Biersch Brewery have combined to become Craftworks. There should be no change in branding of any of the restaurants already in existence. This makes Craftworks the largest operator of brewpub and craft beer focused restaurants.

To be honest, I don't think this is going to be a big deal to anyone. I'm just using the news to reiterate my wish for a Rock Bottom Brewery in town. We have a shortage of brewpubs in town with just Gordon Biersch, 75th Street, McCoy's, Granite City and Amerisports. Only 2 of those are locally owned and having another chain isn't going to make many craft beer drinkers happy but it will provide more choice.

Granite City, Amerisports and Gordon Biersch don't ever do any kind of outreach to the craft beer enthusiasts, aside from tapping new seasonal beers. You can live near one of these breweries and never hear anything about them. But, Rock Bottom reaches out to homebrewers and craft beer enthusiasts by holding special beer events for each. Maybe Gordon Biersch will learn from Rock Bottom and start doing a little something other than their seasonal tappings to generate enthusiasm for craft beer. Maybe not.

Rock Bottom has multiple seasonals so they have many tappings throughout the year. They have more selection of beers than the other chains that are in town. They're just a more interesting brewpub than the other 3 brands. I wouldn't mind if one of the Old Chicagos in town changed to a Rock Bottom. Better yet, though, I'd like to have one built in downtown Overland Park. Let's get this done.

Saturday, October 24

MDL Wine and Spirits

If you were driving down 95th street on Saturday you might have noticed the giant inflatable Guinness pint at the Antioch intersection. Saturday was the Grand Opening of MDL Wine & Spirits at 8850 West 95th in Overland Park. I was happened to be in the area and decided to stop in and see what all the fuss was about.

MDL has actually been open for the past month, you may have seen their commercials on TV. Don't feel bad if you can't remember the commercials, they're pretty forgettable... What made them stick in the back of my mind is their claim that they have Overland Park's best wine selection. That's a pretty big claim when there is a Lukas Liquor within spitting distance. I needed to see this for myself.

MDL's location isn't exactly prime, it's on the northwest side of the 95th and Antioch intersection, between a Blockbuster and a Walgreens. So if you find yourself needing a bottle of wine to take home with your drive-thru prescription drugs and rented copy of He's Just Not That Into You, MDL is perfect for you.

When I walked in to MDL I thought to myself, "the Lukas Liquor on 119th is bigger than this..." After walking around and taking a good look at their selection it looks like they have a really nice selection of wines that comes pretty close to Lukas. I was able to find most of what I was looking for but wasn't able to scare up a Silvaner or Dornfelder. St. Pauli Girl found MDL's clearance rack and picked up a Rosé de Malbec and a bottle of Incognito for $5 each.

My main complaint with MDL Wine & Spirits is that their beer section is quite small. The selection is really nice though, and they have a lot of single beers you can't get a Gomer's or Lukas. Ever wanted to try North Coast's Pranqster or Ommegang's Three Philosophers but can't bring yourself to committing to a $12 4 pack or 750ml bottle? No problem, you can buy a 12oz bottle of either of these beers at MDL for $3 or $4. Even better, you don't have to build a six pack, you can walk in and get a single bottle of Haystack Wheat or Milk Stout for $1.29 if that's all you want.

I'm not convinced that MDL has the "best selection in Overland Park" but they do have a lot to offer and some pretty good bargains. If you find yourself on 95th street and want to pick up an odd number of craft beer loosies while your film gets developed next door, stop in MDL Wine & Spirits.

Wednesday, November 5

Red Balloon Bar and Grill

Sunday afternoon, I took a little tour of a couple of bar's along 75th Street in Overland Park. By tour, of course, I mean went drinking looking for something fun. I wasn't quite prepared for what I found at the Red Balloon Bar and Grill (10325 W. 75th St., just west of Switzer).

I noticed as I was walking in a couple of homemade sign's that usually portend something special. I don't remember what the sign's said, but I do remember that they made the oft made mistake of putting an apostrophe before the "S" in pluralized words. I will be using that style for all the pluralizing in the rest of this post in honor of the Red Balloon.

I walked in the door and was immediately struck by 2 things, the darkness and the number of people. I couldn't sit at the bar, my preferred place, because all the seats were taken and I only had a couple of empty tables to choose from. The Chief's game was long over so I assumed the bar would be pretty cleared out. But, not the Red Balloon. I found a table in front of a TV and sat down.

After a couple of minutes of sitting with no service, a lone guy sitting at the table next to me asked if I needed a beer. I said I did and he complained that Shirley (I don't think that was her name but it was something close) was busy playing trivia. Apparently, on Sunday afternoon's they play trivia (they also have Karaoke every night). The host of trivia was wearing jort's, which made me laugh a little, and was well coiffed. He looked like he could have been an evil Swede in "Hot Dog: The Movie" or "Ski Patrol". Sven would read the trivia questions from a piece of paper and collect all the participants papers after a series of 5 questions and grade them. This seemed like a fine time, unfortunately for me, I came in just as they were starting Round 2.

The lone guy (let's call him Wayne*) asked me what I wanted to drink and I told him a big PBR can (they had a sign advertising $2 PBR 24 oz. can's). Wayne then yelled at Shirley, that I needed a PBR. I'd never ordered a beer in a bar this way. Since I got the right beer the old office game of messenger was slightly disproven. As I drank my beer, Wayne decided to join me at my table. I was paying attention to the trivia questions as Wayne tried to figure out who won the early slate of NFL games (apparently the Red Balloon also has a bar pool where customer's try to pick the most game's each week). I took real issue with one of the trivia questions because it was complete nonsense, "What is 10 times 100 minus 1 yard?". I laughed to myself at the inanity of the question and almost explained it to Wayne, but he was busy trying to figure out if the Browns won.

*I chose the name Wayne because at the business Wes and I used to own in Wichita, we had a guy named Wayne who liked to hang out while we were working. Wayne "worked" down the street at a bar very much like the Red Balloon called the Stadium Inn. I put worked in quotes because Wayne was paid in beer. If anything needed done while he was drinking in the bar, he would do it such as cleaning off tables, bringing beer up from the back room, etc.. Wes and I always got a big kick out of Wayne because of his stories. You see he was a little "off" because he got hit by a truck one time. When he would get excited he would have trouble finding his words and roll his eyes back in his head almost as if he were about to pass out. He had stories like, "the other night when I was walking home these cops stopped me and I tried to beat them up but they slammed my head into the ground and I spent a week in jail". Everytime he was missing for a week or a month, he would come back with a story like that. Good times.

Well Red Balloon Wayne was much like Wichita Wayne except he didn't have the eye thing, he just talked out of one side of his mouth. I'd be willing to bet, though, that Red Balloon Wayne at some point had experienced a head trauma. We talked for quite a bit while I was drinking my beer. Apparently, Wayne had been at the Red Balloon that morning when they opened and had a couple of beers, then he went to work, he's a painter (the house kind, not the art kind), and then he came back. I got the impression from listening to him talk, that he does that sort of routine every day. We began to discuss a guy sitting a couple of tables over from us. Wayne told me that that guy was becoming unemployable since he became a crackhead. Apparently, the crackhead only cared about smoking crack and not about being a good painter.

While Wayne went out back for a smoke, I saw a menu and looked it over. Spaghettio's with meatballs was a menu item. And I'm not spelling that with the apostrophe to make fun of the signs, it was actually spelled that way on the menu. All the other menu items that ended in an "S" also had the apostrophe. The apostrophe's really made me laugh.

When the time came to pay, I got my tab and pulled out my debit card. Wayne said that they don't take cards, which I thought was a joke. Shirley even laughed about it, reinforcing my thought that it was a joke. But no, she was just laughing at Wayne and they really don't accept credit cards. Well, it appeared that I was in a bind, because I had approximately 22 cents on me. Shirley told me that there was an ATM at the QT down the street. Luckily for me, they trusted me to go and get the cash and I didn't have to oral on anyone.

If you venture into the Red Balloon, make sure you have a pocketful of cash, an open mind and healthy conversation starters. As someone told me while I was there, the Red Balloon is a great place if you have an in with the locals. It's not so great if you don't know anyone. Lucky for me, I had the regular's regular to tell me all about everyone and all about the Red Balloon.

Saturday, October 11

87th Street Bar and Bike

So I'd been toying with this idea to ride my bike to do quick hit reviews of some bars. As I was driving near my neighborhood a couple of months ago, I noticed 3 or 4 bars within a mile of each other so I began to formulate a route. Once I had a rough idea of the route I mentioned the idea to Wes and Weston while we were doing the Boulevard tour. They were on board as well, in fact Wes was more than on board, he wanted to have sex with the idea.

I spent a Saturday driving along the route and figuring out which bars were there and still open. I made a map and sent out a Twitter call and email call for participants. We had a couple of bar casualties in the time between formulation of the idea and go time so I added a Duds N' Suds and Side Pockets. The final map had us starting at Maloney's in downtown Overland Park, hitting The Other Place and then riding about a mile and a half to Jocks just off 87th. From Jocks we were going to go west down 87th hitting every bar along the way until we got to Callahans. From Callahans we were going down Rosehill Rd. to go to Bar, An Eating and Drinking Establishment and down to Old Town Lenexa to hit Jerry's, then back through the neighborhood (Pflumm has a graveyard and gigantic hill that we didn't want to attempt after 10 beers) to 87th Street to go to Side Pockets and back east to Tanner's. In all a 6.5 mile ride with 11 stops along the way.

After we found out who was coming and transportation issues, we flipped the route to start at Tanner's and end at Maloney's leaving a short bike ride back to the Bull E. Vard mansion.

Let's meet the participants:
Bull E. Vard
Wes Port
- known from such adventures as the Boulevard Tour, 13th Street Bar and Grill, Howl at the Moon and Ernie Biggs Piano Bar
Chambord - Boulevard Tour, 13th Street Bar and Grill, Howl at the Moon, Ernie Biggs Piano Bar, Bar Natasha, Chambord's List and Caddy Shack
Owen Morris - From the Pitch's Fat City blog
Chimpotle - From Hot Blog on a Stick

The route:

View Larger Map

After we got all the bikes and participants at Maloney's and everyone introducing themselves around, we piled the bikes into Wes' vehicle and drove to Tanner's.

Maloney's We used Maloney's as a reflection point and reflected on all the bars we went to during the day.
The Other Place
A great place to grab dinner while drinking, we didn't really interact with anybody while drinkin here.
When we first walked here I spied a dude without his shirt on and hair down to mid-waist. I'm not sure what Wes ordered but we received a 32 oz. beer. We sat down at a table with a girl who reminded me of Debra Winger and her friend who looked like Beer Girl. Debra Winger was fully regaled in New England Patriots gear so I felt comfortable telling about my man crush on Tom Brady. For the rest of our time there Wes and I were playing on mancrushes on Patriots or Red Sox and playing darts. Chambord and Weston paid for a game of 301 in darts (which is the worst darts game) and I dominated, actually throwing underhanded to dart out. We had a great time at Jocks hanging out with the locals. One of the locals took quite the liking to me and told everyone that I would be worth 4 cartons of cigarettes and a porno mag in prison. I made him my bitch. It was also pretty packed for a Sunday midafternoon.
Arizonas Sports Bar and Grill
Kind of a nondescript Johnson County bar. It was doing good business but didn't really have a great bar vibe. Chimpo, Chambord and Weston played some kind of porn video game while we were finishing up our beers (Bob's 47, $3/bottle) but even the nudity couldn't hold our attention.
JJ's Cool Change Bar This was the bar where Wes and I started to feel the effects of an afternoon of drinking. After parking and locking the bikes we made our way in and sidled up to the bar. All along the bar were little trays full of popcorn which I gladly ate even though I couldn't find a popcorn popper. Wes was a little concerned after he ate some and asked where I got it from and I said that it was just sitting on the bar. I noticed from a sign behind the bar that it was Joyce's birthday so I asked the bartender if she was Joyce. She was, so I wished her happy birthday. Don, who was sitting next to me at the bar, took an interest in me when I stopped to write something down. He mentioned that they had deep fried hot dogs (hot dogs from Fritz's) and they were the best hot dogs in town. Well, Wes and I couldn't pass that up so we had some dogs. They were fabulous! Seriously, get to the Cool Change and get a deep fried hot dog. Sure, you'll prolly die from the experience, but you'll die happy. Also, there were at least 3 different dogs that made an appearance inside the bar while we were there. I'm not taking a side on this one (whethere dogs should be allowed in bars), but the one pictured above was an incredibly nice dog.
Spivey's Bar and Grill A dead bar. Besides Wes, Owen and I there was only one other guy. But they did have a bar pool where they picked NFL games, so there's that.
Callahan's Bar and Grill The greatest thing about Callahan's was the tap handle that showed Great Divide's Titan IPA. Owen and I shared the sweet nectar from that tap. If Owen learned anything from this day it was that Great Divide makes a wonderful IPA.
Bar an Eating & Drinking Establishment $1 PBR draws is the main thing to know about this bar which reminded us all of a modular home. While Owen, Wes and I were talking a couple of times, this girl turned to check me out. One time when she turned, I was in mid sentence and I stopped my thought and threw out a Joey Tribbiani "How you doin'" which elicited a smile and a quick turnaway. Of all the places we went on the day, I felt the most comfortable that I would be able to hook up at this place. Another fun thing about Bar was that the customers were in control of the DirectTV during the football games. It seemed like the type of place that the customers were in charge. In fact, while we were unlocking our bikes to travel, one patron took offense that we locked them up, "No one here's going to take your bikes". It seems like a fine place to spend an afternoon.
Jerry's Bait Shop One of my personal favorite places to grab a beer. Owen had an American Ale and we discussed the merits and demerits of the beer. Mostly we agreed that it was like drinking a substandard Fat Tire.
Tanners Bar & Grill A great place with 20oz draws. We sat out on the new smoking deck so we could watch our bikes. Sadly we were the only ones using the deck to drink instead of to smoke down heaters.

Overall, the bike ride was pretty strenuous but not so much so that we were unable to have a good time. For having a beer at each location, we ended up in pretty good shape. To which I attribute burning off a beer or two while riding. We had a great time at JJ's and Jocks mostly because we were pretty lit up, but I like to think that the crowd we interacted with contributed to our good time.

We, at the KC Beer Blog, like to contribute to more self propelled drinking and biking and riding does that just great. We think that this was a great course to get some exercise and get some good drinking in too. If you know of some other locale in town with 10 bars in a 5 mile radius let us know and we may spend a day riding it. We had a fabulous time riding this course and hope to ride many more.

Update: I wrote most of this after we got home from the ride so there were numerous fallacies, misspellings and bad grammar. Hopefully it's cleaned up now.

Thursday, October 9

Barley's has Reopened

Barley's at 119th and Quivira has reopened after their remodel.
[119th& Quivira]



Because we're pleased to present a fresh, new look at Barley's TODAY.
With more elbow room, top-of-the-line televisions and an amazing bar to showcase our 99 TAPS, it's a look we consider, cool, clean, casual and chic.


With great made-from-scratch tastes you haven't had the pleasure to savor - and some of the favorites you can't live without [how did you make it?!].


Wednesday, October 1

Cubs Watch Party Headquarters

Old Chicago in Overland Park (119th and Metcalf) has declared themselves the Cubs watch party headquarters. The special is $1.50 Old Style cans, so at least they are trying to be authentic. I know people have been searching for this kind of information all day. So head on down to OC, enjoy some Old Style and cheer Dempster and the Cubs over those hated MannyBManny Dodgers.

Friday, August 29

Barley's on 119th Closing for Remodeling

Get over to Barley's this weekend if you want to see it one last time before the remodel. They should be closed a month.

Saturday, August 16

Bottle Shock

A trio of unrelated events led me to this movie, which I feel was directly targeted to me. First, on a trip to Border's about a month ago I found this book, "Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting That Revolutionized Wine" in the bargain bin for $3.99, marking the first time I've found an acceptable book in such a bin. The second event was the wine trip Stella and I took to Sonoma last month. The final event was going to see the movie "The Singing Revolution" (about Estonia's bloodless revolution and independence from the Soviet Union) where I saw a preview for "Bottle Shock".

I knew with 15 seconds that the movie was adapted from the book and I felt like telling everyone in the theater that I was reading the book, as if they would care. I could also tell that they had dramatized the narrative to render it nearly unidentifiable from the book. In fact, after having seen the entire movie now I don't believe they even mentioned the book in the opening credits, but several people portrayed in the movie matched people in the book, including the author.

Anyway, the movie tells the story of a struggling English wine shop owner (Alan Rickman) that is obsessed with French wines. At the advice of an American friend who owns the business next door, Rickman decides to hold a wine tasting pitting French wines against their American counterparts from California. Rickman's character doesn't believe that Californian wines are anything more tasty than fancy grape juice, but has to go to California to find some suitable wines for the competition.

In California, Bill Pullman owns a struggling, unproven winery with his stoner son. Of course this movie takes place in 1976 before the Napa Valley became THE Napa Valley. The winemakers are presented as some sort of cowboys making a product no one believes is quite up to snuff. Pullman, of course, plays a bit of a gruff, passionate and broke winemaker.

Pullman's winery was the first winery Rickman visits in California because of coincidence. Rickman's Gremlin (seeing a Gremlin is funny enough, seeing a snooty Englishman driving a Gremlin got an out loud laugh from the audience) got a flat tire and he was helped by Pullman. During the tire change Rickman denigrates California wines not knowing that Pullman owns the vineyard he's about to visit which led Pullman to say to Rickman "You're a snob, it limits you" (I really liked that line, just wanted to point it out). This starts off an adversarial relationship with Pullman that makes up most of the conflict in the movie. One of the funniest scenes comes when their conflict comes to the climax and Rickman says to Pullman "You think I'm an a**hole, but I'm not. I'm just English and you're not." It reminded me of something I heard Tracy Ullman say about Simon Cowell, "he's not rude, he's just British", lovely people they have over there.

Much of the story, though, centers around a relationship between the stoner son, a Hispanic son of a vineyard farmhand that is Bill Pullman's assistant and a good looking female intern. I'm sure much of this story was written by the screenwriters and it was typical movie love triangle storytelling. Nothing was wrong with it, it just took up too much of the movie.

They did get in quite a bit of wine making theory from the book such as "the best fertilizer for a crop is the winemaker's footsteps" and distressing the vines makes the fruit work harder and compresses the flavor. Reading the book, I never thought a movie could be based on it. So they did a fine job or getting in some good info. But, they took a rather thin slice from the book to come up with the story told in "Bottle Shock". I think reading the book is probably preferable and watching the movie as a nice complement to the book.

Rickman does a great job in this movie. Three things really stand out; the Gremlin scene, Rickman eating a piece of Kentucky Fried Chicken and Rickman eating guacamole. I absolutely love a British character acting British (I unashamedly admit that "Love Actually" is one of my favorite movies, let the gay jokes commence) and Rickman plays the part fantastically. It was just a joy seeing him in this movie. He makes it well worth the price of admission. Also, it's playing at the Rio in downtown Overland Park, so it's a fun moviegoing experience as well.

Without giving away the ending even though it is intuitive, it should be noted that the 1976 that Steven Spurrier (Rickman's character, not the same as the a**hole that used to coach the Florida Gators) set up is what made California wines into what they are today. Before the tasting, California wines were seen as a joke and not the equal of French wines. Now, of course, California wines are seen as equal, if not better than French wines. That fact can be traced back to the 1976 Paris tasting (a brief synopsis can be found here).

While this is primarily a beer blog and we love beer, it should be noted that I love wine as well. Stella and I did just get back from a wine vacation where I formed the opinion that a good beer will give me a boner, but a good wine will bring tears to my eyes. Depending on the mood and company, either can be preferable. So, each has its place in the Vard mansion.

Go see this movie if you are at all interested in wine or the history of wine. Or for the smaller subset of people who like to laugh at the British, "Bottle Shock" is a good movie choice. Now I want a bottle of wine.

Wednesday, July 16

BBQ'n with Booze

Bruce Campbell will teach us some barbecue recipes utilizing beer, liquor and wine. He should know as he has been managing in the food & beverage industry for years and is a Member of the RibStars BBQ Team. We’ll also learn how to pair beer...and wine!...with barbecue. While we’re at it,we’ll help you with your cocktail mixing skills with some wonderful beverage recipes. There will be cooking demonstrations and pairing exercises, tastings and toastings and other fun stuff. We’ll learn as we prepare Honey Bourbon Pork Loin, Grilled Pineapple with Dark Rum, Beer Butt Chicken, Borracho Beans, Beef Burnt Ends and some perfect concoctions such as the 'BBQ BLM' and a 'Caribbean Cape Cod.'

Admission: $60 + tax.


Region: Southwest
Address: The Culinary Center of Kansas City, 7920 Santa Fe Drive, Overland Park, Mo.
Phone: 913-341-4455
Visit Event Website


Date: 08/07/2008
Time: 6:30-9 pm

Thursday, January 31

Johnny's Tavern

So I was rolling through Leawood the other day after skipping out on work at noon, running some of my personal errands. That's right I do my stuff in Leawood, what of it? I finished up my errands about 3:30 and immediately thought, where can I go to get a beer. I'm rarely south of 75th Street so I have a tough time visualizing where I can go. I remembered when I lived in Lenexa in 1995 my roommates and I used to go to Johnny's Tavern so I thought I would see if I could remember where it was.

Things have changed down there since I lived in the area, there's this series of institutional buildings that look like a prison (I suppose it is a prison to some) that houses some company called Sprint. I knew vaguely that Johnny's was around 119th and Lamar and I missed it when I drove by the driveway to the strip mall. Now there's a new building out in front but Johnny's was still there right where I remembered it.

Johnny's had a pretty good 4:00 on a Monday crowd, at least 8 people in there. I sat at the bar and saw the taps; 4 or 5 big beer beers, Fat Tire, some Boulevard and Guinness. When offered this particular set of choices I get a Guinness. I noticed the guy sitting 2 chairs down was playing one of those trivia games. I hadn't played one of those in a long time. It's been so long I used to use the name Kilborn because I enjoyed his work on SportsCenter. I used my blog name Bull this time. I joined the game after 4 questions were asked so the other dude had a pretty significant lead. I caught him on question 12 and finally beat him by about 2000 points. That's right, I am a trivia champ. Stella won't let me get Trivial Pursuit for the house because I would trounce her every time, even if it was the Chick Flick and Vagina edition.

While I was playing trivia I noticed another tier of draft beers, but it was kind of hidden behind a wall so I couldn't see what was on there. I asked the bartender and it turned out it was the mother lode, Boulevard Nutcracker, New Belgium 2 Below (Wes always asks 'I wonder if they drink 2 Below in Tupelo') and a couple of other decent beers. I decided to stay for another round of trivia and down some Nutcracker.

I DOMINATED in trivia the next round just missing out on the top 20 in the country (I was only 50 points off) and putting Johnny's Tavern in the top 1000 in the country with only 2 dudes playing. The other dude said that I should become a premium member (like he was), I didn't know what that meant and explained I usually drink downtown and they don't have trivia machines downtown, which is pretty much true.

Overall Johnny's was a like a preseason football game, mildly interesting but real vanilla. Back when I was a 22 year old punk, we usually had a real good time there after 10 PM, occasionally making a nice acquaintance with a female companion. I don't know if that's the way it is now. It seems like it might be more of a Sprint bar now, but it's alright if you're in south JoCo and not wanting to go to Old Chicago for a beer.

Special and other info from Johnny's Website.
  • NEW! OUTDOOR PATIO - Come out and enjoy the weather!
  • New! - High Definition TV's.
    • We have recently added 11 high definition TV's
    • Come down and watch all the games in HI-Def!
  • Across the street from the Sprint campus
  • Daily food and drink specials
  • Kids menu
  • Selected 1/2 price appetizers from 3-6 pm everyday
  • 2 Golden Tee golf games, 2 pool tables
  • NTN trivia network, 23 tv's and eight satellite dishes.
  • NFL Sunday ticket, Mega March Madness package etc..
  • Space available to book all of your parties
  • Party and meeting rooms available

Monday, January 14

Homebrew Haven

Sometimes I complain to people I know about how tough it is to be a beer blogger. You never get to just go to your favorite places (never is a strong word since I've been to Harry's Country Club in the past week and 75th Street Brewery a couple of weeks ago), there's always a new place to try. Sometimes you end up going to crapholes like The Stables and places that always kind of scared me like The Final Approach yesterday. But for all of my complaints I get the occasional great experience.

I've been lucky enough to find some great places, Harry's being one, and meet some pretty great people. Bad Ben is one of those people. Ben is as entertaining and interesting guys you'll ever meet. Anybody who runs 100 mile races is bound to be interesting, but Ben is also a blogger and most importantly, to me at least, a homebrewer. So I consider myself lucky that I was invited to his house for a B.U.R.P. party (Beer Utilitization and Reduction Party).

Ben isn't just some schmoe who brews a keg or load of bottles at once, he's darn near a pro. He brews in 10 gallon batches and ends up with more beer than one family can drink. So the B.U.R.P. was born. At this particular B.U.R.P. were 5 beers, a barleywine, IPA, Saison, Porter and a regular old Pale Ale. I believe Ben told me that none of the beers were less than 8% alcohol with the barleywine topping the bunch at 11.4% (approximately, I don't take notes when I'm drinking).

I showed up to the B.U.R.P. after having a couple of beers at the Yard House as well as a nice dinner. If you ever get out to the Yard House, get a Rogue beer on tap and have the sliders with Bearnaise sauce. You won't be disappointed. After dinner, Stella wanted to do some shopping and stuff and we made our way back towards the Bull E. Vard mansion. After our last shopping stop I tried to make the turn over to Bad Ben's but Stella decided she needed to stay home but gave me permission (like I needed it) to go over to Ben's which luckily is only 5 to 10 minutes from the mansion.

I stopped at Rhyno Liquor to pick up an appropriate gift, a nice big bottle of Breckenridge IPA and tried to find Ben's house. Yahoo Maps sucks and told me to turn on a street that doesn't really exist (at that location) so I missed my turn. Luckily I used to live on the street in question so I had a really good idea where the turn was that I missed. I found the cul-de-sac that housed Ben and got in the house. I walked on in the door and made my way to the kitchen where I saw Matt, Ben's son. Matt hooked me up with a sweet pilsner glass and I grabbed myself an IPA. I don't know the correct procedure when trying a slew of beers, I told myself that an IPA will get the taste buds warmed up. I really enjoyed the IPA. I talked to some dude about our mutual love of IPA's, 75th Street Brewery and Barley's Brewhaus.

When I finished the IPA, I washed out my glass and went for what I thought would be the highlight of the evening, the Saison. It was fantabulous. It may have been just a little too sweet to be the perfect Saison but it ranks right up there with any Saison I've had. Next up was the barleywine, I've never had a barleywine and didn't know what to expect. I'm going to come to the conclusion that I don't like barleywines because Ben's beers were all so good, I'm sure the barleywine would compare favorably to others. But, I didn't like it, didn't want to finish it and didn't want seconds. I know there are no wrong answers when it comes to beer, unless the answer to a bartender's question is Bud Light in a bottle, so Ben won't be mad at me for not liking the barleywine, but I feel bad about not liking it.

Last up in the beer menu was the Porter. I love porters and think it's a completely underrated beer style. Ben's porter was the balls. It may be the best porter I've had and I've had my share. To be honest, I stayed a little longer than I intended because I couldn't get enough porter.

I can't thank Ben enough for inviting me over to sample his beers. I enjoyed myself immensely and had a good time meeting all of the people I met over there.